That claim is not supported by:
- The ongoing nuclear expansion programme within the UK,
- Italy's recent vote to reintroduce nuclear power following a complete rejection of the technology in the years immediately following the Chernobyl accident,
- Reports of statements from German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaling the potential reversal of their nuclear phase-out policy,
- Several expansion announcements over the past two years from China - signalling repeated acceleration of their nuclear power development programme,
- A recent tender for a new reactor in Slovakia,
The proposed legislation has been criticised by WA business groups as well as traditional owners.
Also in the news is a report that the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union will soon launch an ad campaign with the slogan, "Nuclear power will kill the coal industry."
This claim seems highly unlikely.
First, in this radio interview [hat tip to Luke Weston], Dr. Ziggy Switkowski clarifies that it is not reasonable to expect Australia to have its first nuclear reactor until shortly after 2020. [However, Macarthur Coal Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Nicole Hollows recently predicted 10 years.]
Also, most believe nuclear's potential role represents only a portion of Australia's total electricity generation capability and that with efficiency, conservation, wind, solar, geothermal and considerable development in carbon capture technology, our carbon emissions can be brought under control. As Ziggy Switkowski says, "This is not a zero sum gain".
Finally, the WNN article claims the union is fishing for support of a $1.5 Billion investment in clean coal currently being advocated by Labor and that raising the nuclear spectre will help keep Labor in power. This claim is supported by quotes from this article in the Business Spectator.
1 reactor in 10 to 15 years with up to another 24 in the 30 years that follow does not appear to be an industry breaking development. Particularly when one considers that most [nearly 2/3] of Australia's coal is exported. [According to Nationmaster, Australia's annual coal production is 338 million tonnes and our consumption is 131 million tonnes. Coal exports are expected to remain secure or increase into the foreseeable future.
Uranium mining in Queensland would tighten the labour market which would tend to increase wages.
With respect to the coal power generation industry, transition from a coal station to a nuclear station is not difficult for most skills. Operators, maintenance craft/trade workers and plant administrative staff perform very similar functions. ADD too this the need for licensing, documentation and security staff as well as greater technical/professional expertise to maintain critical systems to what is commonly regarded as 'nuclear grade', and it becomes apparent that a local nuclear plant provides more employment opportunities than a similarly sized fossil station.